‘Four more years’: Gov. Beshear makes first BG campaign stop

Published 2:38 pm Sunday, May 21, 2023

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s first Bowling Green campaign stop gave new meaning to standing room only.

Friday night at the downtown Spencer’s, about 200 people gathered to hear him speak. As he rolled up in a big black bus featuring his name, supporters inside the coffee shop started chanting.

“Four more years! Four more years!”

When Beshear began his speech, he joined in.

Beshear is running for reelection this November against Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general.

Cameron and Beshear officially won their respective parties’ primary elections only three days ago, but neither are taking a breath before transitioning into full-on general election campaigning.

Friday was the first day of Beshear’s three-day bus tour across Kentucky. His campaign and other pro-Beshear political groups have already bought $43,000 worth of television ads, the first of which will begin airing this week.

For comparison, during Beshear’s first campaign for governor in 2019, his campaign didn’t air ads until Aug. 6.

Cameron and other anti-Beshear political groups haven’t wasted any time, either, already spending at least $318,000 on general election ads. Also on Friday, Cameron went on Fox News and told viewers that Beshear was responsible for division and learning loss in Kentucky, among other issues.

Beshear’s Friday speech focused on his leadership during “unprecedented” times, economic gains made during his first term and his support for teachers and unions.

In the past three years, he has led Kentucky through the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple natural disasters, including tornadoes and floods.

“Despite everything we’ve been through, I am more hopeful and more optimistic for the future of this Commonwealth than at any time in my lifetime,” Beshear said.

“We are coming off our two best years for economic development in our history and it is not even close. Bowling Green is now going to be home to the third largest battery factory on planet Earth.”

Also on an economic note, Beshear said that last month, Kentucky set the record for the lowest monthly unemployment rate ever.

He added that he wants to continue the momentum and “leapfrog” other states in economic development to claim Kentucky’s spot in the top 10 economies in the nation.

Republican state legislators have previously criticized Beshear as “taking credit” for economic gains they say the legislature is responsible for creating.

Dozens of attendees held “Teachers for Andy” signs at the campaign event. Members of the United Auto Workers labor union showed up in red shirts to support the governor.

Beshear said that he’s the first governor in a while that has made Kentucky’s public servants feel secure about their retirement.

During his administration, the state has created the largest rainy day fund in history. This has led to a bond rating upgrade, “meaning every teacher, every police officer, every social worker, every city employee – your pensions are better protected than at any time in the last several decades,” Beshear said.

He added that the state can use the enlarged rainy day fund to give educators a pay raise.

He made callbacks to 2019, when he narrowly defeated incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin by less than half of a percentage point, about 5,000 votes.

“We thought that race was about right versus wrong,” he said. “It was about life versus death. And because we won that race, tens of thousands of Kentuckians are alive today.”

In the 2019 election, Beshear secured 50.8% of the Warren County vote, which was key to his victory. He said that this year’s election is even more important than 2019, and will be similarly close.

Kentucky is one of three states holding a race for governor in 2023, and the only state where a Democratic governor is running for reelection. Consequently, the election is likely to draw national attention – and money.

Cameron has already appealed to national politics during the primary election, touting his Trump endorsement and focusing on national GOP talking points.

However, Beshear has said he will not campaign with national figures like President Joe Biden, and instead focus on Kentucky issues. He said this race is not about who is in the White House, but about “what’s going on in your house.”

“The citizens of Kentucky care most at the end of the day about those questions we all have to answer – do I have a good job, one that will provide security for my family? We’ve created a record number of good jobs,” he said.

“Can I afford to take my parents or kids to a doctor when they’re sick? We’re expanding healthcare and the price of insulin is coming down. Do I feel safe in my community? We provided the largest raises in history to the state police, seized a record amount of fentanyl, had hundreds of guardsmen at the border and we have seen a decrease in overdoses last year for the first time.”

Beshear presented himself as the positive, encouraging option that could bring investments to Kentucky by talking up its communities.

“But what are my opponents doing?” he asked. “They’re talking us down. They’re running us down. They’re creating division and fear and hatred. That’s the type of thing that could cost a community that game-changing investment.”

Gov. Andy Beshear speaks to his supporters during a general election campaign stop at Spencer’s Coffee in downtown Bowling Green, KY on Friday, May, 19, 2023. Photo by Grace Ramey/grace.ramey@bgdailynews.com